Frankfurt – "Phenomenal" is a word often heard after matches Alexander Meier has played in, and Saturday was no exception.
The 32-year-old attacking midfielder returned from a five-month injury lay-off with a swift reminder of his talents, doing so in sensational style. In Eintracht Frankfurt's 6-2 win over 1. FC Köln, the 2014/15 Bundesliga top scorer hit the ground running with a hat-trick – the first in the top flight this season.
'Alex isn't normal'
Netting two with his head and one with his left foot, he has seemingly lost none of his sharpness during a 161-day absence with injury. "It's amazing," enthused team-mate Marco Russ. "Alex certainly makes the difference."
Armin Veh, whose side crushed VfB Stuttgart 4-1 last time out, might have been tempted to stick with Haris Seferovic and Luc Castaignos in attack against the Billy Goats. Instead, he felt his side could be even stronger with Meier slotting in behind the two, and his decision was vindicated. "To come back like this after five months out is not normal," coach Veh said. "But then Alex Meier is not normal - he's extraordinary."
Like he'd never been away
Gracious in defeat, even Köln coach Peter Stöger sportingly paid tribute to the Frankfurt match-winner: "It's a sad day for us, but it's nice to see Meier back". Frankfurt fans - and neutrals - will be delighted to have one of the most entertaining attractions around back on the pitch, hanging just off the two forwards in a position he has made his own.
"I just tried to play as well as I could and slot back in," Meier said humbly. "I have to say that the goals were set up for me superbly. All I had to do was stick out my head or foot even if heading the ball's not my strength."
After hitting 13 braces among his 104 goals in 296 games for Eintracht, the Hessian club's 'Fussballgott' ('Football God'), as he is affectionately known by Eagles fans, now has a Bundesliga treble to his name. As club chairman Heribert Bruchhagen put it, he is indeed "simply phenomenal".